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Sept. 30, 2005

MSU large-animal critical-care center opens for business

EAST LANSING, Mich. – A new critical-care center for horses and other large animals at Michigan State University will help keep animals and people safe from infectious diseases, treat sick animals in state-of-the-art facilities and help maintain the state of Michigan’s nearly $2 billion equine industry.

Dedication ceremonies were held today for the Matilda R. Wilson Pegasus Critical Care Center, a nearly 9,000-square-foot facility that will not only provide care for ill animals, but also offer teaching and research opportunities for students and faculty.

Specifically, the center will improve patient care by providing intensive care to critically ill large animals, teach students about the proper diagnosis and treatment of stricken animals, and conduct research.

“The new information we generate will ultimately lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and prevention,” said Lonnie King, dean of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine who is currently working at the Centers for Disease Control. “In turn, the students will use the knowledge they gain to treat thousands of horses and other large animals in the future.”

The new center includes a number of special features, including modern manure disposal facilities; 10 individual isolation stalls; on-site clinical pathology laboratories, and, most importantly, a specialized ventilation system that helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

“This allows us to place very sick animals with infectious diseases in an isolated place, minimizing the risk of spreading the disease to other animals and people,” said Frederik Derksen, a professor of large animal clinical sciences who has been involved in the project from its inception. “Animals with infectious diseases are often very ill and require critical care. This facility will help us provide state-of-the-art care for these animals.”

The center will also house a conference room equipped with video equipment that will not only enhance teaching, but will allow clients to see their sick animals.

“This will give clients a chance to see their animals without having to worry about the spreading of infectious diseases,” Derksen said.

The center is named in honor of Matilda R. Wilson, a former member of the MSU Board of Trustees whose foundation donated $5 million to the center. Wilson was on the MSU Board from 1931 through 1937. Pegasus was the name of one of her favorite driving ponies.

The donation is also supporting two residents, known as Matilda R. Wilson Scholars, in equine internal medicine and equine surgery, with the opportunity to further specialize in large-animal emergency medicine and critical care.

“A particularly important part of the college’s mission is to train equine specialists who will become the future clinical, teaching and research leaders in veterinary medicine,” King said.

Wilson left the bulk of her estate to the Matilda R. Wilson Fund, which has supported a number of projects in the College of Veterinary Medicine, including the Matilda R. Wilson Equine Respiratory Disease Research Endowment; the Matilda R. Wilson Chair, which is held by N. Edward Robinson, a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences; and the Meadow Brook Endowed Chair in Farm Animal Health and Well Being, which is held by Lorraine Sordillo.

In addition, MSU has honored the Wilson family by naming residence halls – Wilson East and Wilson West – and a thoroughfare – Wilson Road – after them.

The new center is located in the southwest corner of the existing Veterinary Medical Center, with close proximity to the McPhail Equine Performance Center.

The Pegasus Center is the second major addition to the Veterinary Medical Center within the past year. Last year, work began on the Center for Comparative Oncology, a 42,000-square-foot facility that will diagnose and treat cancer in animals.

Slated to open later this year, the oncology center will house a linear accelerator, which provides radiation treatment for animals with cancer, as well as modern exam rooms, holding facilities and offices.